Monday, November 30, 2009

Enemies of Promise

“Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising.”
--Cyril Connolly

Tottering from within—


That what will not be
Breached, though treacherous

Enemies have sworn
They will try to

Bring it to rubble whenever
Promise gathers the anointed

Rabble before the gates.

Sunday, November 29, 2009 is never wrong

Dear Mr. Zambaras: regrets to inform you that your application to register the name Saffilis Zaengmac as your lawful nom de plume cannot be accepted due to the fact that said aforementioned name was duly registered by one Goask Elgart on June 20, 1972.

Illegibly yours,


Saffilis Zaengmac, Jr.

PS. Serves you right for not writing your name in block letters instead of signing off with just your signature, BLOCKHEAD.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lie of the Land


Our luck,

stopped among

the carobs and pines.

Needles. The beckoning stone
hut sunk
in whitewash, inside
the heart lines creasing

familiar land.


Coming out

now, the close lie

of the gulf

for a thousand miles
between us,

the hard truth hurting,
absolute light.

(First published in a somewhat different version in Sentences, 1976)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Soulmonger's Thanksgiving

Ungrateful chattel,
Munching on every minute

Of every day, lest you forget
The hand that feeds you,
Give thanks

For all that is given,
All shall be sold,
All carted away.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scrabble of Sweet

Lethe-bound, I had a dream
In which all I remembered

Remained a three-word puzzle:
Short, mysterious, sweet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Let it be decreed and duly inscribed:

The word of a poet’s passing
Shall be accompanied
By a pealing pandemic
Multitude of reads!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Village Coffeehouse, Summer 1969

Sunday morning after church, 40 years ago: My mother's brother's coffeehouse in my home village of Remmatia--one refrigerator, one sink, one tiny butane cooker for the preparation of Greek coffee, three small round metal tables, a few wooden chairs, a hard-packed dirt floor, and the village's only telephone.

From left to right: My first cousin on my father's side of the family, my father, the village priest, my uncle, my cousin John on my mother's side--the only person still alive--all captured in a room inundated with incredible, bright late morning light.

Saturday, November 21, 2009



To know poets are
As good as their word—

It’s their politics
That’s disturbing.

Friday, November 20, 2009

À Rebours


In the golden autumn
of the Judas tree,

There is a solitary


Whose every note threatens

To betray him.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The village was a hard place--a few white squares against
the mountain. No wells, no streams, a taste of cisterns on
the widow's lips who had brought him food--white cheese,
hard gray bread, black olives. She watched him eat and
told him to stay for the cool hours of evening and the
morning that would come alive like the light moving along
her lips now.

(From Sentences, 1976)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009



When we got to the moor,
We saw the one thing still

Moving on that mossy-like surface
Was a waterlogged semaphore.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Today as April 21, 1970

Who will calculate for us the cost of our decision to forget?
George Seferis

For the past
three years, she's been at it,
nagging as I descend
the steps into the garden, bent
over, bringing the sky with me:
Elias, where's the sun? You forgot
the sun again. You know how
we depend on you.

Hag. How she stumbles
in her garden, blistering her knees
against the rocks, while I sit here,
idle, and think about it:
"You know how we depend on you..."

I should have been an owl in daylight
or a marble face dumb in the night.

It would have been easier then,
hating her.

(From Sentences, 1976)

NB: Today is the 36th anniversary of the fall of the repressive, brutal and despicable Greek junta which seized power on April 21, 1967; true to form, the US was one of the first countries--perhaps the first--to recognize the dictators.

Air of Gravity

Raindrops tripping the light

On high tree limbs, light-
Headed wind brings them

Down to earth again.

Monday, November 16, 2009


desert storm

. . . . . . . . . . . .

mirages err

or ages speak

mirrors terror

. . . . . . . . . . . .

crushed the bones

jaws of asses

do not clatter

. . . . . . . . . . . .

thus of error

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Not to be swayed by one thought not worthy—
Keep this thought with you when I’m not.

Immaculate Conception

Not what you would think but

Poems as pure,

As the snow
That’s driven us

To perfection.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


What does it mean,
To grope? To an inquisitor,

I suppose it must
Mean to find yourself
Feeling uncertainty when
It happens

You find yourself fumbling
At the end of a rope.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009




Who cares if care is required
To enrich poetry, pity

The poor slob who cares.

Invasion of the Slug People

You know

They’ve finally taken over
The world

When we no longer
Have the time

To shovel the slime
We’ve left behind.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Environmental Awareness

Lone predator

Scouring the environs,
Peregrine falcon out

On uppermost branch
Of blighted tree limb—

Pray keep an eye on him.

Sunday, November 8, 2009



O gods, the sprawling earth-
Bound spirits spawning

Their issue in aether,
Spilling their fire-

Like essence over
A consummate

Wine dark sea!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Whence the Problem of Poetics

Poetry? I remember

I had a soft spot for it in my heart
That became hard to explain

Once I let it enter my brain.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Good-For-Nothing Record of a No-Account

His ledger rife with minuses,
Two plus two never making four,

He put a rifle up his sinuses—

Nothing made sense anymore.

Recently Linked: My thanks to Elisabeth Hanscombe, who has just signed on as a follower. Elisabeth hails from Victoria, Australia and is a writer and psychologist who can be found writing on her blog ,
Sixth In Line.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another Oral Writing Lesson

--after Claude Lévi-Strauss(1908-2009)

Whoever said that
Writing could change
The intellectual

Conditions of human existence
Should have thought twice
Before writing it.

(Written after learning of Claude Lévi-Strauss' death on
Ron Silliman's blog.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Room with large windows
Opening to the sea

In which to close
One’s self upon waking.

Monday, November 2, 2009


High above the ruins
Of Ancient Messene
And below the lone village restaurant,
There is a haggard dog chained
To a large, earthenware jar.

His view of this once-rich
City is indeed magnificent, truly
Uplifting to the spirit, but
As he knows it by heart,
He prefers to sit on his haunches

And turn his back on it,
Looking up instead for any sign
Of the bones he prays the gods
Might find it in their hearts
To throw down to him.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My Friend Tree


I thought it was
the wind,

and turned in time
to see

leaf after leaf falling

my friend and me.
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